A Proposal for Ground-Based Planetary Defence Systems
c 2000, Rory Cargill

     In this paper I shall outline various proposals for facilitating both civilian defence and military guerrilla actions in the event of a hostile takeover and/or occupation of this planet by extraterrestrials. Although many people are of the opinion that such a threat is merely the domain of science fiction and the fantasy-horror division of Hollywood, I take a different perspective altogether. I take it as given that there are other sentient species throughout our galaxy and, just as you will find good and bad wherever you go in our world, things are pretty much the same 'out there'. This means we're just as likely to run into 'white hats' as 'black hats' on our first encounter.
     When one looks at the course of human history with its' tides of imperial expansion, decline, colonialism, etc., it becomes apparent that those nations which were best prepared, survived while those who made no preparations were rapidly overcome and absorbed by their erstwhile conquerors or colonisers. It is quite likely that in the event of hostile action the official governments and military will be obliged to surrender to and collaborate with an occupying force. In which case a robust infrastructure needs to be in place for appropriate action to be effective.
     This being the case, I feel it is time to put in place such systems that would facilitate military and civilian resistance to a hostile occupation force, even though it may never be needed. Communication is an essential ingredient for co-ordinating effective engagements and this paper deals with the issue of deploying an effective communication system. Although the premise of this paper may seem far-fetched and addresses an issue with a miniscule probability of occurrence, I feel that it warrants your attention.
     The technological infrastructure for such a system is in the process of being developed and deployed. That being the internet, mobile-phone networks, distributed computing and secure encryption. These systems can be developed to meet the bandwidth needed and be deployed throughout the civilian population as consumer goods and services. To maximize the uptake rate, these products should be mass-produced to reduce costs to a level where they are easily available across all income groups.
     Both the internet and the mobile telecommunications networks feature multiple redundancy as a result of their free-market development. This makes them an ideal backbone to use as an 'in-place' communications system for dealing with an occupation force. As both systems have minimal security against compromise, the use of real-time encryption/decryption is essential.

A typical communications terminal would comprise of:

  1. A mobile receiver unit capable of Broadband full-duplex communication of audiovisual internet and multi-channel television content with a non-volatile data storage/retrieval facility.
  2. Real-time encryption/decryption of the above content.
  3. A headset (H.U.D.) combining microphone, earpiece and a laser-optic fibre display unit built into a lightweight pair of spectacles.
  4. Data input terminal built into a 'glove' using finger movement to manipulate cursors, icons and visual elements with finger-to-finger touch replacing mouse clicks.

Such a system would enable mobile groups to maintain contact and exchange data securely over an open system. The next part is to find consumer applications for such systems so that in the eventuality of their being pressed into service, they'll just appear to be 'part of the background noise' to an outsider.

Possible consumer applications:

  1. Mobile video phones. Commuters would be able to watch films, the news or take part in multi-player 'Virtual Reality' games on their way to and from work.
  2. The headsets could replace VDU's at computer workstations. Low power requirements would make them attractive for corporate use by reducing electricity costs.
  3. Mobile computer terminals. They would take over from the current generation of 'handheld' and 'palmtop' computers by offering a larger display screen (as perceived in the eye) and easier data entry.
  4. Computer gaming. The headsets and hand terminals would be ideal for the computer games market where they would be taken up by sectors of the market that might not buy into the mobile video phone technology.
  5. Education. The headsets could be a useful educational tool for schools.

Distributed Computing

     Bulk data processing would be handled via the internet and distributed to remote computers. Security would be maintained through data encryption. Such a system:

  1. Would make use of spare computer capacity of computers connected to the internet.
  2. Require a broadband 'always-on' connection to handle the data throughput for computers operating in distributed computing mode.
  3. Would be administered through internet providers who would sell on the available processing capacity to institutions or companies requiring extra processing power.
  4. Would require current computer operating systems to be upgraded and/or modified so as to include a distributed computing capacity.
     A distributed computing system could be deployed in a variety of ways:
  1. Corporate and Institutional use: Large quantities of computers sit idle for most of the day at many institutions and businesses. Through distributed computing, these computers could be put to use processing data during after-hours downtime.
  2. Consumer use: Internet access could be financed by users selling their unused processing time to their internet provider who, in turn, sells that processing time to institutions and businesses. With the convergence of the internet and multi-channel television, there is a strong likelihood that television sets and home entertainment centres will include some sort of computer in order to handle the internet content. This computer could be permanently connected to the internet making its' spare capacity available for distributed computing. For people unable to buy into the new technology, a low-cost retrofit box could be made available through television and internet providers.

     Deployment of such a distributed computing system would depend on making the two variants attractive to their target markets. Selling distributed computing systems to businesses and institutions should be relatively easy. Ensuring mass uptake on the consumer market might pose a few problems. Before such a system could be rolled out, various criteria need to be met.

  1. Cable and satellite and cable television providers include full-duplex internet access in their service. This is easier for the cable providers and problematic for satellite providers who need to include regional telcos in their data loop.
  2. Internet providers become a point of contact for local, national and international television content.
  3. Television broadcasters become Internet Service providers who offer their content as part of their consumer package.
  4. A common, non-proprietary language needs to be established so that the distributed computing can function independently of whatever operating system or processor type is installed on any computer connected to the internet.
  5. Multiple redundancy needs to be built into the data allocation so that if any data is lost by a computer going off-line, the same data package would be simultaneously processed by at least one other computer.
  6. Internet bandwidth and access speeds need to be increased. At present it is not able to deliver multi-user multi-channel access.
  7. The demand for computing time amongst business, institutional and governmental clients be established.

     Uptake of the consumer television/internet terminal could be made more attractive by including both videophone service and low-cost access to multi-player online gaming using the type of headsets outlined in the previous section. If it turns out that sufficient revenue can be generated through the sale of processing time, it could lead to a situation where it would be viable for service providers to give the computer terminals and software to their subscribers free of charge, thus accelerating the uptake of this proposed system.
     If the deployment of a converged internet/television service can be financed through the sale of surplus processing capacity, then its' deployment in countries where there is little or no uptake of the internet, television or mobile telecommunications would become a feasible reality.
     In times of national or planetary emergency the online processing power could then be made available for defence use. The corporate distributed computing systems, being more secure could be used for more critical data while the open internet-based distributed computing network could be used for less critical data.

Mad about ET's!!!